NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team split its team up for the weekend and got exactly what it wanted, additional NCAA qualifiers when junior Denise Bargiachi produced one in the 5000 meters at the UW Invitational in Seattle, Wash., and Makeatha Cooper and Peter-Gaye Beckford qualified in the 60-meter hurdles and long jump at the J.D. Martin Invitational in Norman, Okla.
Bargiachi’s qualifier came late Friday night when she put together a 20 second personal best in the 5,000 meters to easily dip under the NCAA provisional standard. Running 16:31.35, Bargiachi was fourth overall, but the second collegiate running less than a second slower than a Stanford participant. Two post collegiate athletes finished in the top two spots. For the Memphis, Tenn., native, the provisional qualifier is the first of her career indoors and is the fastest time in the Southeastern Conference by more than 10 seconds.
“Denise stuck to the game plan and posted a great qualifier,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “Her time should be very competitive this season, but we will certainly try to improve on it. I was very proud of all our runners in the 5,000 as each of them ran lifetime bests at a very difficult competition.”
Running with Bargiachi in the 5,000 meters were freshman Catherine White and sophomore Miranda Walker who ran 16:51.57 and 17:06.54, respectively, finishing sixth and eighth. White’s time is the third fastest in the SEC and Walker’s is fourth.
The J.D. Martin contingent also ran very well with Cooper matching her season best in the 60-meter hurdles at 8.27 seconds and Beckford sailing to a season best 20 feet, 1 ½ inches in the long jump. Cooper improved on her preliminaries time of 8.42 seconds to her winning mark of 8.27 providing more proof that her opener was no fluke. The Univ. of Oklahoma track is not known for its speed and Cooper’s time gives credence to the belief that she can run even faster as she looks to break Arkansas’ oldest indoor track record of 8.16 seconds.
Beckford’s long jump was also not much of a shock to Arkansas’ coaches as they watched the senior nearly make the 20-foot mark last weekend as a part of the pentathlon. What may have surprised her coaches is just how close she came to Arkansas’ top five all-time marks as she fell just five inches short of etching her name in the record books.
“We did very well today and I was pleased,” Arkansas associate head coach Rolando Greene said. “Any time you get a qualifier that’s a good thing and it gives them all confidence. We worked out aggressively this week and to see them respond like this is a great thing.”
Also posting solid marks on the weekend were senior Tominque Boatright in the 60 and 200 meters, Shelise Williams in the 200 and 400 meters, Courtenay Brown in the 500 meters and Paige Farrell in the 800. Boatright has been suffering the effects of the flu for the past week and despite the setback in her training ran a career best in the 60 meters by two tenths at 7.70 and nearly matched her 200 best at 24.73.
“This facility is a flat 200-meter track so if you look at the times and convert them to a banked track just about everyone ran a career best today,” Greene said.
Williams ran her first open 400 meters on Saturday afternoon and came away with a time of 55.99 for fourth place behind her teammate Brown who won the competition at 55.63. Williams was also a force in the 200 meters where she ran 24.99 seconds for another fourth-place finish. Farrell’s time continues to drop in the 800 meters where the senior clocked a season best 2:13.92, shaving nearly three seconds off her previous best for the year.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action next weekend when they travel to New York City for the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.